The Top 3 Things Parents Can Do To Raise A Healthy Child

The first and most important thing to remember with kids is that, for better or worse, we're their role models. Like sponges, our kids will absorb everything they see us say and do. If you eat junk food all day long, sit in front of the TV at night and live on soda, guess what? Chances are your kids will follow your habits.

And, just because God has a sense of humor, it doesn't necessarily follow that just because you eat veggies, shun sweets and meditate and do yoga for five hours a day that your kids will follow you down that path. (Funny how that works.)

Basically, kids will be kids. They have their own tastes, personalities and desires. It's important to honor those while at the same time, emphasizing a healthy lifestyle.

We all want children who are happy and healthy. Being healthy is not just eating right and exercising, it's how our kids interact with and communicate with their peers, how they feel about themselves and how they move through life.

Looking for ways to promote health and happiness for your kids? Give these three ideas a try.

Encourage healthy eating habits. Many kids rebel against eating their fruits and veggies. If this is the case, give them a little encouragement. For younger kids, show them you're eating the food and that it's yummy. If this doesn't work (and let's face it, that never works), try telling them that their favorite Disney character always eats their fruits and veggies and that's how they grew big and strong. For older kids, you can try a similar approach using athletes or other role models. Another option is to make eating foods an adventure. Take your kids grocery shopping and allow them to pick out one unusual-looking fruit or vegetable with the understanding that everyone at the dinner table must take at least two bites.

Once you find even one fruit and one vegetable that your child likes (or at least does not hate) don't be afraid to serve that over and over and over again. Kids differ from adults in that they like repetition-as our own (now adult children) proved after years of broccoli binging. As they got older and their taste buds changed, these once finicky eaters became foodies.

Promote exercise. If you see your child just sitting inside, glued to the TV or PlayStation®4, don't just tell them to get up and get moving-be part of the action! Plan an activity, go to the park and play on the swings or, if they like to dance or play sports, sign them up for a class or team.

Stimulate communication. In every parent-child relationship, communication is key. When we have stimulating conversations with our children we are helping set up their communication skills with others for the future. What makes for stimulating (age-appropriate) conversation? Topics can include everything from school and friends to art and science. Use part of your time together to talk to your child about the pressures of smoking and drinking. Make sure you tell them they can always come to you if they need help or advice-then talk about situations where that may occur.

Helping your child in stay healthy is just one part of being an effective parent. Learn the skills needed to raise happy, successful kids in today's society by taking an Active Parenting Course!

Pioneer educator Dr. Michael Popkin is the founder of Active Parenting Publishers and is the author of many award winning video-based parenting education programs. An expert in his field, Dr. Popkin earned a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Georgia State University and has served as Director of Child and Family Services at an Atlanta hospital.